A cutting board. Two inches thick, forty plus years old, and still holding up to
serve its purpose. Beyond the pie crusts rolled out on its top or the turkeys carved for a holiday, it represents so much more.
Christmas last year my man-child stood eyeing the ham I was carefully slicing for dinner. "Hey Mom, I like this board. Where'd you get it?" No, he wasn't buffalo-ing anyone, I knew he was trying to distract me long enough to grab a piece of meat and quickly leave the kitchen, but I played along.
"Actually it was your great-grandmother's. In fact, it was the first one I ever used when I was learning to bake. From grandma it went to your grandfather then to me. It's been around every holiday since I can remember."
Still waiting for his chance to capture a prize piece, my son answered with a short, "Cool." But before I could continue to relay the materializing memories, he sighed and left the room, giving up on his attempt to pre-taste dinner's main course.
In seconds, I was five again, covered in flour and helping my grandmother to roll out dough. The Pillsbury Dough-boy would have been envious of my whiteness- flour from head to toe but smiling a toothy grin just the same. The rolling pin had been smooth in my little hands. It sure seemed hard to roll the dough just right. Too thick. Too thin. Too small. Then way to large to fit the pie pan. Determined, I finally got it right.
A little over an hour later, which of course, seemed like forever and a week, the smell of a freshly baked apple pie traveled from the kitchen counter, down the hall, into the bathroom, landing directly under my nose as I sat in a tub of bubbles. Mm was that ever a wonderful scent. Hard work on top of a cutting board had been rewarded with a delicious dessert that evening.
Halfway done cutting the ham and loading the platter with even slices, I smiled to myself as I remembered the same anticipatory feeling my son had had moments before.
Don't think a holiday had passed when I didn't try to "help" my father carve the turkey or ham just so I could steal a piece before dinner. Breakfast had always been before daybreak so by afternoon I couldn't wait to stifle my growling stomach with any small scrap I could put my hands on.
My father was a professional cook and it had been fun to watch him breeze through the motions of carving and serving. Except on the few occasions when he'd try to rush and the knife would slip, nicking his calloused hands. Usually by that time, he'd had a couple of Budweisers so his language would become angry and very colorful. As long as I continued to hold the platter still, not laugh at his dilemma, and instruct the nearest relative toward the band aids, I'd be rewarded with not just a scrap, but a whole slice of whatever meat he was slicing.
He never was one for family gatherings so it'd be him and me serving our guests, then after the meal, clearing and cleaning the mess. Yes, it was a lot of work at times, but our afternoons by that cutting board had been some of the best bonding times we ever had. Perhaps that is why I loved the holidays so much.
At last I had the ham sliced and ready to serve only to realize there were still other veggies to tend to before calling everyone to dinner. I heard my son's voice behind me and in the spirit of a tradition he knows nothing about, I picked up a slice of ham and handed it to him. My offering was met with a wide hungry grin.
After dinner as I washed the cutting board and ran my fingers over the many digs within its wood, I thought how amazing it was that an inanimate object could hold so many memories...and so much love.
Here's hoping this blog reminded you of some of your own special moments. Hugs, Lisa :o)